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Let Us Fix Our Eyes Upon Jesus

March 16, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Luke 13:31–13:35

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
March 17, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Lent 2
Let Us Fix Our Eyes Upon Jesus

At that very time some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, leave now, Herod wants to kill you!" And [Jesus] said to them, "Go tell that fox, 'Behold! I expel demons and perform cures today and tomorrow; and on the third day I shall be perfected! Nevertheless I must needs continue on my course today and tomorrow and the Following Day; for it is inconceivable that a Prophet should perish except in Jerusalem!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent to you! How many times did I long to gather your children like a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you refused! "Behold! Your house is forsaken! And I now declare to you that you shall not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" (Luke 13:31-35)

Today’s Gradual admonishes to: Fix our eyes upon Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith. But how do we do this? How do we fix our eyes upon Jesus?

We “fix our eyes upon Jesus’ by hearing the holy gospel. In it we receive the Lord’s gracious teaching from his own lips, and so let us take it piece by piece.

What are we to make of the Pharisees’ warning to Jesus? Did his enemies have a sudden change of heart? Were they now concerned for the Lord’s safety? Or were they using Herod’s threat as an attempt to silence Jesus, to make him go away, and leave them alone, so that they could get back to business as usual?

St. Luke never says what their intentions were but in either case Jesus was not fazed; because he was on a divine mission that nothing could deter. His mission was our salvation.

Nor was that mission a secret and so, like Jeremiah in today’s Old Testament lesson, he wants everyone to know the program including Herod the King, Herod the Fox. A schemer who always got his prey: but not this time! No! Not this time! He could not outwit Jesus. He could not stop Jesus. Nobody could, and nobody can today because what Jesus came into the world to do, and still comes into the world to do at every Holy Communion, is bigger than all the Herods that ever lived, then or now.

The redemption that God had promised for thousands of years was about to blossom. All that had been pledged in Torah, and the Prophets, the love and faithfulness of God, his mercy and compassion, his justice and righteousness … all was now about to become wonderfully and gloriously true! Sorrow and sighing were about to flee away as Jesus neared the cross; and the glory of the Lord was about to cover the earth..

Yes, let us “fix your eyes upon Jesus” as he makes his way to the cross to offer his life as a ransom for many! (Mt. 20:28) To transfuse the sin-encrusted planet with the rarest blood type of all, “blood type J”, the blood that gives rest to the weary, and life to the dead!

And though the ultimate victory would be encapsulated in those Three Days the Lord refers to in today’s gospel he generously hands out “a foretaste of the feast to come” along the way. No demon is safe when Jesus is near. No sickness can withstand the Great Physician by whose “stripes we are healed”. (Is. 53:5)

Those same signs are still performed today by the same power of the same cross. This is why the church expels demons still today; and why she prays for the sick and anoints them with oil, so that the glory of the cross might cast its light on those who dwell in darkness.

Yes, everything hinges on those three days that Jesus refers to in our gospel. That mysterious “today, tomorrow and Next Day.” Here the New Jeremiah predicts his own suffering, death and resurrection. His trial in which he was framed with our sins. His death, which is our death. And his resurrection which gives us the confidence to profess: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

Yes! The case is exactly as St. Paul states in his sermon to the Romans (5:6-8)
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And in 1 Corinthian 15 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

We learn here that the Lord’s resurrection from the dead is the “completion” of the course that Jesus speaks about in today’s gospel: that stunning and mighty event by which we obtain life in a “world without end”.

How do we “fix our eyes upon Jesus”?

We fix our eyes upon Jesus when we worship in the shadow of the holy and venerable cross: which is the chief icon of Christian religion. Throughout Christian history the cross has always been more than a simple reminder. More than a piece of ecclesiastical decoration. While we don’t call it a sacrament, it is sacramental in nature because by its contemplation, by its veneration, the weak are made strong; the sick made well; and those harassed by demons are set free.

How do we “fix our eyes upon Jesus”?

It is no accident that the church has seen fit, from her earliest days, to include these words of Jesus in Eucharistic liturgy: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” For Holy Communion is the time above all times, and place above all places, where God’s people get their clearest vision of Jesus this side of heaven. A billboard on Brookpark Road advertises: “Meet Jesus Online at jesusonline.com.” But Jesus cannot found online, but only in the church. Only at the altar where his Body and Blood are believed and gratefully received.

How do we “fix our eyes upon Jesus”?

All that we have mentioned so far: hearing the holy gospel, venerating the blessed “graven image” of the cross, communion with Jesus in the Sacrament: all of these are preparation for history’s final event: the return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead.

For all who reject Jesus it will be the darkest day of all. But for his church, the most dazzling. St. Paul writes of our hope in today’s epistle when he says:

“But our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also eagerly await a Savior, [the] Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our frail bodies to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21)

That Dear Christians will be OUR perfection, our joy and our crown. And so let us join the church of heaven and earth this day and declare with one voice, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest, heaven and earth of full of thy glory.” Amen.